Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Welcome Home Macaroni

Dear Jamie,

What a lucky little girl you are!  You have been given two of the coolest parents.  They have intelligence, wit, great taste, and are overwhelming kind and generous.  With them supporting you, I can't wait to see how smart, funny, and charming you will become.

You are a week old today.  I'm grateful to have seen you every day for the first five days of your life.  It was great to see your folks and see the changes in you.  I'm away for a while, but I hope you know that no matter where I live I will always be there for you, just as I am for your amazing parents.

Hugs and kisses....Auntie Katie

Our friends Dave and Wendy just had a beautiful baby girl.  I am thrilled for them and wanted to show my affection for them by bringing them food.  But what to make?  I wanted something that would be fine to leave in the refrigerator for a few days, if needed and would taste good re-heated.  I wanted something comforting and filling.  I wanted something that they could share with other guests.  My go-to dish includes meat and cheese with pasta in a spicy, garlicky sauce, but that didn't seem to be good for a nursing mother.  Oh yeah, how about macaroni and cheese?  I modified a recipe that comes from James Beard via my mother.

Macaroni and Cheese
Serves plenty

3/4 lb dried macaroni
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp hot sauce (optional)
10 oz shredded cheese

Cook the macaroni in boiling water according to package directions.  Drain well and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, begin to prepare a white sauce.  Melt butter in a heavy skillet, stir in flour.  Cook over medium heat, stirring smooth.

Before you add milk to the flour-butter mixture, heat it separately until it is almost boiling.  Then, gradually stir it in and continue stirring until it thickens.  The sauce stays smoother by adding warm milk to the other warm ingredients.  Add the salt, mustard, and hot sauce, and simmer for no more than 5 minutes.

Butter a 3 quart baking dish or casserole.  Put a layer of cooked macaroni on bottom, cover with some of the white sauce and cheese.

Repeat layers until dish is full, ending with a slightly heavier layer of cheese on top.

I used sharp Cheddar and a little grated Parmesan, but it can be good with whatever cheese you like or have on hand.  I don't recommend too much soft cheese, though.  Also, depending on how much cheese you like, you can use between 8 and 12 ounces.

Bake in 350 oven for 20 to 25 minutes until you can see the sauce bubbling on the sides.  Then pop it under the broiler for about 3 minutes to give it a nice color on top.

NOTE:  I gave this casserole to the new parents before cooking it, so they could have it fresh, but it also reheats well in the oven or microwave.


  1. Sounds great...A couple of things I do with mine...I use a little heavy cream and ground white pepper...Also, I use a double boiler to heat the milk, flour, cream, cheese, salt and pepper...I haven't used dry mustard in mine before, but will give it a shot...

  2. Another good suggestion, Wes, thanks. You certainly can't go wrong with the addition of heavy cream. I will try it. It is very nice to hear from you!

  3. Jamie misses Aunt Katie. Wendy wants you to know that she doesn't miss you one bit. It's only Jamie.

  4. Aunt Katie missed Jamie and her mommy, too. Sometimes I even miss your daddy.